Felling restarting at Tiroran Community Forest

We are relieved that, after a long break, felling has now restarted at Tiroran Community Forest in accordance with our Long Term Forest Plan and as part of the supply chain in the production of key industry products such as pallets and packaging, biomass fuel, and timber for the construction industry.

The harvesting will be carried out by Colin Brolly Forestry Limited, an Argyll company with extensive experience of harvesting timber on Mull. Over the coming months we will be felling an area on the east side of Glen Seilisdeir, behind Balevulin. Warning signs have been erected asking people not to enter the area where the harvesting in taking place. For several months, two contractors will be living in caravans tucked away in the area beyond the information shelter and compost toilet.

The white-tailed eagles and their chick are being closely monitored by Dave Sexton of the RSPB to ensure that they are not being disturbed by the works.

Haulage of the timber along the B8035 will also restart within the next couple of weeks, in accordance with our permit to use the road and in observance of it’s conditions, which include no more than six loads per day and a maximum speed of 20mph.

If you are walking in the forest please stay away from forestry operations and do not allow children to climb on the stacks.

Philip Yielder, Community Forester
07564 342610


Scottish Government Covid-19 Framework consultation

The Scottish Government is seeking feedback on the document “COVID-19 – A Framework for Decision Making” and SWMID has drafted a response.

The framework is the beginning of a conversation to help us to begin to consider options for transition from lockdown, in preparation for when it happens and only when it is deemed safe to do so, and to help us to adapt to a “new normal”. The SWMID directors support the concept of the framework, the direction which it will take us and the importance of moving cautiously from lockdown alongside the rest of Scotland.  We felt that in our response there were particular aspects which we should draw attention to, in relation to our local area: Tourism, Education and Connectivity.  That is not to say that other aspects cannot be mentioned but we felt that these are very specific to us in this part of Mull and on Iona.   

We are inviting everyone in the South West Mull and Iona area to comment on our response to the Scottish Government documents – please click on the links below and read everything before you do so – the framework, the “further information” update and the SWMID response. Let us know if you agree with the response, if you think that we have missed anything out or if you would like to add any points. It is really important that as many of us engage with this process as possible.  If you would like to contribute your views then please send us your thoughts by 10pm on Sunday 10th May. We know this only gives you a few days but the Scottish Government have provided a deadline of 11th May for feedback on this latest guidance.

Please note that Iona Community Council have responded separately and we have taken into account these views within the SWMID document.

The Scottish Government is actively encouraging feedback and discussion about the framework document and you can also get involved individually through their online forum: Scottish Government discussion forum.

Mull Community Council are also collating a Mull-wide response and you will be invited to make a contribution to this.

Please follow the links below:-

Scottish Government: Covid-19 – A Framework for Decision Making

Scottish Government: Covid-19 – A Framework for Decision Making: Further Information

SWMID response to Scottish Government documents



SWMID response to Covid-19

In line with government guidelines, designed to limit the spread of the coronavirus and protect people who are most vulnerable, the South West Mull and Iona Development office will be closed for the time being. We will be working from home and available via email and telephone. 

For general email enquiries use: admin@swmid.co.uk

For general telephone enquiries use: 01681 700403 (Morven Gibson)

For forest enquiries contact Philip Yielder on 07564 342610 or 01681 700611, or via email: pyielder@swmid.co.uk


Social Isolation Support

To help combat social isolation we are co-ordinating a telephone linking service for people who are self isolating due to the current situation.
– If you know of anyone who might appreciate a regular phone call to see how they are and catch up with the gossip, please let us know (but ask their permission first!).
– If you would like to be part of the telephone linking team please also contact us.
Please contact Morven at home rather than using the office number: 01681 700403 or email: admin@swmid.co.uk




Coming Home – willow sculpture project

We are very excited about our upcoming willow sculpture project, Coming Home, based on the abandoned township of Knockroy at Tiroran Community Forest.

The township was home to crofting families from before the 13th century until after the Highland Clearances, but now consists of over 25 ruined structures including houses, byres, kilns, and animal enclosures.

(For more information about Knockroy, see our Tiroran History page)

The sculpture project celebrates the people that once lived at Knockroy.

Local willow weaver, Alex James, of Isle of Mull Baskets, will work with participants to create willow and wood figurative sculptures to represent the historical community. The willow figures will portray past inhabitants going about daily life and livestock, such as sheep and cattle.


Book your place

The willow-weaving workshops run from Sunday 9th to Friday 14th February, 11.00am to 4.30pm at the Columba Centre in Fionnphort.
Places are limited and booking is essential.
You can book for a half or full day session.
Children over 8 are welcome if accompanied by an adult.

On Saturday 15th February the sculptures will be placed on site at Knockroy at 1.30pm. All are welcome. 

Booking is via the SWMID office 01681 700021 or with Philip Yielder, Community Forester, pyielder@swmid.co.uk.

Please let us know if you require community transport.

Funded by Scottish Forestry

We are very grateful to Scottish Forestry for funding this project and enabling us to offer free entry to all participants. Tea and coffee will also be provided, but please bring your own lunch if you are staying all day.



Asking the community

Residents of South West Mull and Iona have two exciting opportunities to express their views and needs in our upcoming consultations!

Housing Feasibility Study

A lack of secure and affordable accommodation has been frequently raised as an issue that affects the ability of working age individuals and families to stay living in this area. Addressing this issue is one of SWMID’s key priorities.

With the support of Our Island Home – Rural Housing Scotland we are currently investigating the feasibility of a small number of affordable homes in Bunessan. Whatever your housing situation – whether it is adequate or you, or a member of your household, is in need of alternative housing at the moment, or in the future, please fill in this survey to help us build a true picture of the current housing situation in this area.

Community Consultations 2020

We would like to invite everyone resident in the South West Mull and Iona area to come to our community consultations: 

Affordable Housing Special Consultation
Wednesday 5th February, 7pm

What do you feel are the priorities for your community?

How do you see the role of South West Mull and Iona Development?


We are looking forward to hearing your views and hope that you can make it!

If you need help with transport please get in touch. 01681 700021, admin@swmid.co.uk


Changing Chairs

We are sad to announce that, after six years as Chair of South West Mull and Iona Development,  Colin MacDonald has retired from the Board. Ambitious and committed, Colin led the Board through incorporation, the purchase of Tiroran Community Forest and Bendoran, and has seen the organisation grow in size and strength.  We wish Colin all the best and will miss his unique humour!

Colin speaking at the opening of Tiroran Community Forest



Colin visiting Sleat Community Forest prior to the purchase of Tiroran Community Forest.

Planting trees with Brik Halcrow, Company Secretary.

Stepping into the breach is Cameron Anson who has been a member of the Board for the last four years. Cameron brings to the role a wide experience of local groups, including Mull Community Council and Creich Hall committee, and an extensive knowledge of rural housing issues through his work.


The future looks bright! 


2019 AGM

Last Saturday was SWMID’s 6th annual general meeting. The day kicked off with a visit to Bendoran, with 20 people heading down to explore the bay and learn more about how the new facilities will fit on the site. For most people it was the first time they had been to Bendoran and the beauty of the setting was much admired, sparking ideas for art-related workshops!

We then moved down to Creich Hall for the meeting itself. Chaired by Vice Chairperson Stewart, we had presentations about what SWMID has been up to during 2018-19. The main focus was the future developments at Bendorannow that the site is in community ownership. General Manager Morven spoke about how exciting it is to be moving forward with the seaweed farm after researching it for years, and to be supporting the development of an independent water-sports social enterprise.

Cameron, one of our directors, presented SWMID’s new strategy, which outlines how we plan to move towards our aim of “building thriving and resilient communities throughout South West Mull and Iona”. You’ll be able to see the strategy and let us know what you think about it during our community engagement events after New Year in late January/early February.

It was great to hear everyone’s thoughts and ideas, and to see such a lot of enthusiasm for our projects. With 57 people there, the meeting had a great atmosphere and included our youngest ever attendee!

Moving Forward with Bendoran

You may have already seen last week’s fantastic news that SWMID has been successful in securing a grant of £450,487 from the Scottish Land Fund! This will enable SWMID to purchase this 2 acre shoreside site at Bendoran, just outside Bunessan, for the long-term benefit of local people. 

Our ambitious plan is to create a multi-use resource on the site, featuring:

  • Processing facilities for a community-owned seaweed farm 
  • A water-sports centre with kayaking, sailing, and paddle-boarding, run separately by a soon-to-be-formed local social enterprise 
  • Moorings for local and visiting boats
  • Boat maintenance area (in the future)

Until the 1980s, Bendoran was a boat yard and was known as one of the most sheltered anchorages on the West Coast. The bay is ideal for mooring boats during the wild winter months, its shallow sandy beach is perfect for teaching kayaking and sailing, and the pier and slipway will enable us to land seaweed harvested from lines in nearby waters. 

We hope the water-sports centre will give local young people the chance to learn new things and get more enjoyment out of the beautiful place in which we live.

Entering the relatively new industry of seaweed farming and processing will generate income to be reinvested locally, while the water-sports centre will support our many local accommodation and food providers by creating reasons for tourists to stay longer on the Ross of Mull. Both enterprises will create several badly needed jobs and training opportunities that will enable working-age people and families to stay in, or move to, the area.

Bendoran is a long term project. Once we have bought the site we can begin detailed plans for development. There is so much to do and we are excited to be getting started!

ben drone 3
Ben drone 2
ben drone 4
Bendoran 5 (002)

Thanks to Scott Mccracken and his drone-piloting skills for the aerial pictures!

If you’d like more information, you can:

  • Attend our AGM on Saturday 23rd November, 11am, at Creich Hall
  • Book to join us for a Bendoran Site Visit on the morning of the AGM
  • Contact the SWMID offices on 01681 700 021 or email admin@swmid.co.uk


Kids Design New Forest Nature Trail

Class 1 from Bunessan Primary School have chosen Tiroran Community Forest as the setting for their “Making a Nature Trail” topic! The children have been working with Mull and Iona Ranger Emily to look at different habitats and research what species they might find in the forest, while Community Forester Philip has opened up a route along the river for the trail and marked the way with posts.

On Monday the intrepid bunch visited the forest to walk the route and see what wildlife can be found along the way. Their next steps are to number the posts and create a leaflet that shows people what to look out for – we can’t wait to see what they come up with! 

A New Playground

Since the Community Plan was written, one of SWMID’s goals has been to work toward providing more local play areas. This July, thanks to Woodland Tribe and funding from National Lottery Awards for All, we were able to go one step further and enable children to create a unique adventure playground of their own design!

Despite a rainy final day, nearly 40 local and visiting children travelled from all over Mull and Iona to take part during the 3-day building event in Tiroran Community Forest. Philip, our community forester, Emily and Emilie from the Ranger Service, and a few parents were on hand to help, but “not to hover like helicopters” as requested by the Woodland Tribe rules!

Woodland Tribe staff gave kids the tools, guidance, and freedom to create 4 structures themselves, including a tree house and a balance beam. One happy participant told us: “we got to decide what we wanted to build and to decide where to put the pieces of wood. My favourite was the treehouse. I hope the people come back again and we can build some more.”


The playground structures are semi-permanent so, with a little bit of care, they will stay standing in the forest for a few years. Hopefully we can add to them as time goes by.

The forest was buzzing with people again the following month for our Forest Fun Day, a part of the national Community Land Week celebrations; almost 70 people came along to celebrate our community’s ownership of the forest. As well as testing out the new playground, there was the chance to have a go at printing and ceramics with Julie Ward, a walk and talk about Tiroran’s wildlife and nature with John Clare, and some delicious cakes provided by the Bunessan Primary School Parent Council.

The playground is near the entrance to the Community Forest, in a clearing near the shelter – next time you’re passing near Tiroran, head in to explore!